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UN urges local firms to bid for supply work - Country ‘could become regional hub’ (Daily Star)

Lebanese firms are encouraged to develop business ties with the UN. This was highlighted during the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia’s seminar on how to do business with the UN, at the UN House in Beirut on Monday.

“For the past three years, the UN Headquarters Procurement Division (UNHPD) averaged $850 million in yearly purchases.

Unfortunately there were no Lebanese entities involved,” UNHPD chief of logistics and transportation section Christopher Fathers said, adding that “the overall UN purchases in 2002 amounted to around $4 billion.”

According to Fathers, Lebanese companies enjoy all the necessary requirements to become UN suppliers: They are knowledgeable, business oriented and practical. Their experience, efficiency and flexibility are their major assets.

“The impression that only big players like Toyota or GE get the contracts is unfounded,” Fathers said. “Each and every company, no matter what size, has an equal chance of supplying the UN. “The US, Europe and Japan accounted for 90 percent of all UN purchases 10 years ago, but currently they only account for only 50 percent.”

Any company wishing to be considered for supplies must first complete an application form which will be evaluated before placing the company on the UN supplier roster. Incomplete applications are automatically disregarded.

According to Fathers, UN supply requests come in three types. Purchases for less than $25,000 are called for by a “request for quotations,” while orders amounting to $200,000 are via “invitation to bid.” In both cases the lowest offers are awarded the contract.
“Request for proposals” are issued for supplies in excess of $200,000. In these cases, not only the price, but qualitative factors are considered. “UN transparency practices require all bids to be opened publicly,” said Fathers. “Representatives of bidding companies are welcome to attend the reading of specs and prices of each bidder.”

Fathers also pointed out that each independent branch of the United Nations, like the UN Development Program or the UN Children’s Fund, has its own separate purchase division. Companies must be registered with each different branch to be eligible for consideration with that particular agency, he said.
“All the information is available online with each UN branch having its separate website,” said Fathers. “There is even a complaints department should anyone consider that they have been a victim of unfair practices.”

According to Fathers, bids are forwarded via e-mail to registered suppliers who must reply promptly, whether in the positive or negative. Suppliers are immediately dropped from the UN roster following three instances of non-reply. “Lebanon has the potential to become the supply hub of the region,” concluded Fathers. “There are numerous UN agencies in the area that require the supply of a plethora of goods and services.”

The UN procurement website is www.un.org/depts/ptd

Beirut 15-09-2003
Ara Alain Arzoumanian
The Daily Star

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